The Safety of Insect Repellents containing DEET

Cats are very Different. Human Products are often Risky for Cats


My cat is 15 months old and is getting over an allergy attack that affected her eyes. I burned some incense and used an insect repellant with DEET. Can those things be harmful to a cat?

Dr. Nichol:

Your kitty may have a few good reasons for those unhappy eyes. Incense smoke or allergies could do it but I am highly concerned about that insect repellent. DEET is serious stuff and can be toxic to cats as well as dogs.


Chemicals can be high risk for cats. DEET products are never recommended on pets because of potential effects on the nervous system. Symptoms may include staggering, muscle tremors, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly seizures. Some mosquito repellents also have alcohol and other ingredients that are harmful. Thoroughly rinse your kitty’s skin ASAP and have your veterinarian examine her for other toxic effects.


Cats are different. Household remedies like Tylenol, many flea and tick treatments, even some shampoos are deadly for kitties. Make sure you don’t give a cat anything intended for dogs or humans without advice from your veterinarian. In a crisis you can contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hot Line (888-426-4435).